Baylor Announces Stephen Newby, D.M.A., as Inaugural Lev H. Prichard III Chair in the Study of Black Worship

Renowned scholar and composer will provide leadership and scholarship in the study and preservation of Black gospel music through Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Preservation Program

July 20, 2023
Photo of Dr. Stephen Newby, who will hold The Lev H. Prichard III Chair in the Study of Black Worship at Baylor University

Stephen Newby, D.M.A., will join Baylor University and the School of Music this fall as the inaugural holder of The Lev H. Prichard III Chair in the Study of Black Worship at Baylor University.

Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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By Derek Smith, Baylor University Marketing & Communications

WACO, Texas (July 20, 2023) – Baylor University announced today the appointment of Stephen Newby, D.M.A., as the inaugural holder of The Lev H. Prichard III Chair in the Study of Black Worship. Newby brings a background in music, scholarship and ministry to the new position, which provides interdisciplinary leadership, research and scholarship efforts associated with the growth of Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Preservation Program, housed within University Libraries. Newby will serve in the Baylor University School of Music.

“This is a dream job, and words cannot express my gratitude to the Prichard family for establishing this position,” Newby said. “Gospel music and Black worship is an integral part of the American fabric. The opportunity to serve and collaborate with others to preserve and share this music is amazing. I think this can provide a foundation to help us present the incredible treasure of this music that we have before us.”

Newby’s multifaceted musical background and renowned academics will further intertwine in the Prichard Chair role. A member of the Seattle Pacific University faculty since 2004, his most recent positions include professor of music, director of composition and director of the Center for Worship. Additionally, has served on the faculties of the University of Michigan and Trevecca Nazarene University. While serving as a full-time faculty member, Newby has built a parallel career as renowned composer, fusing elements of Black gospel and jazz in churches, symphony halls, musical theatre stages and more.

“The School of Music at Baylor University is delighted to welcome Dr. Stephen Newby as the first Lev H. Prichard III Chair in the Study of Black Worship. Professor Newby brings a wealth of experience and expertise as he joins our faculty,” said Gary Mortensen, D.M.A., dean of the Baylor School of Music. “His training has brought forth a rich variety of important works in both secular and sacred genres. Dr. Newby displays an impressive wealth of knowledge highlighting his research, and it will be a pleasure to watch and listen to Dr. Newby in this new position.”

Scholarship, music and ministry

Before joining the Seattle Pacific faculty, Newby served as a minister of music at Antioch Bible Church in Seattle, Washington. The ministry call has maintained a grip on his life in a variety of settings, including a recent appointment as minister of worship at Peachtree Church in Atlanta. As a child of ministers – Newby’s father was a Missionary Baptist preacher and his mother a minister of music – Newby says a career involving music and ministry was “in my genes. The education piece is attributed to curiosity.”

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education from Madonna University in Michigan, Newby received his Master of Music in jazz composition and arranging from the University of Massachusetts and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in composition from the University of Michigan School of Music. While on faculty at Seattle Pacific, he attained an additional M.A. in theology. That training led him to full-time jobs in higher education and ministry, while continuously composing and publishing pieces in a variety of genres – most notably at the fusion of classical, gospel and jazz. While at Seattle Pacific, he earned a National Endowment for the Arts grant and has contributed numerous journal articles, chapters and published pieces to music scholarship.

“These various lanes have always been pathways to discovery for me, whether leading worship, lecturing, writing books composing music or teaching orchestration,” Newby said. “The Prichard Chair will allow me to lean into these different areas of interest. More importantly, it’s going to allow me to pass these this on to the next generation.”

A composer of classical, gospel, jazz and chamber music, Newby’s versatility has taken his music to numerous stages and concert halls. His most recent commissions were performed by the Seattle Symphony and in Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater, and he has served as a worship leader with Maranatha Music and Promise Keepers, with multiple published recordings to his credit.

Baylor ties

Before joining the Baylor faculty, Newby’s association with the University goes back nearly 10 years to his initial visit to the Pruit Memorial Symposium. In 2013, the Symposium began a partnership with the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program to explore the cultural heritage of Black gospel music. Newby first attended the symposium in 2014.

As he brings leadership to the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program and Pruit Symposium through the Prichard Chair position, he assumes the mantle from a friend, collaborator and mentor. Bob Darden, Master Teacher and Emeritus Professor of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media, who retired in May after years of teaching and the founding in 2005 of the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program. Newby is currently at work with Darden on an upcoming biography of the late Andraé Crouch, the influential Christian music performer and writer, entitled Soon & Very Soon: The Transformative Music and Ministry of Andraé Crouch, The Light Years.

“Because of the Pruit Symposium, I’ve always had my eyes on Baylor,” Newby said. “I’ve had a great appreciation for the collegiality and excellent scholarship produced at those gatherings. That was a wonderful draw for me. And when I look at all this – the program and archives, the symposium and the investment through the Prichard’s generosity – where else in the United States is anything like this going on?”

Visionary philanthropy

The Lev H. Prichard III Chair in the Study of Black Worship was established in 2021 through a visionary gift by the Prichard Family Foundation and Ella Wall Prichard, B.A. ’63, established in memory of Ella’s late husband, Lev H. Prichard III. Newby now assumes the role, which was created to further the research and work of the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program, related scholarship and coordination of collaboration with stakeholders.

Mr. Prichard was an Alumnus Honoris Causa of Baylor University. He served twice on the Baylor Bear Foundation board of directors and was an honorary life member of the Lettermen's Association. Mr. Prichard was president of Prichard Oil Co. and Apco Minerals and partner in Storm-Prichard Co. In 2018, Ella Wall Prichard added published author to a list of achievements that has centered on a life of service and volunteering, including nine years on the Baylor University Board of Regents from 1993-2002. Lev and Ella cared deeply for the welfare of their adopted hometown of Corpus Christi and quietly but generously supported a multitude of cultural, educational, human welfare and religious organizations in the area, a legacy Ella and her children and grandchildren carry on to this day.

Ella Prichard said that her husband would be proud of his family’s work to preserve something he loved so dearly for future generations.

“He would be thrilled about the work the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program has done,” she said. “He never wanted any recognition or publicity, and he wasn’t a scholar, so he would also find some humor that there is an academic chair named after him. He would also be very proud that we’ve been able to make a difference.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


Celebrating more than 100 years of musical excellence, the Baylor University School of Music provides transformational experiences that prepare students for careers in music. Students thrive in a Christian environment characterized by a nurturing resident faculty, an unwavering pursuit of musical excellence, a global perspective, dedication to service and devotion to faith. They investigate the rich musical and cultural heritage of the past, develop superior musical skills and knowledge in the present, and explore and create new modes of musical expression for the future. While preparing for future leadership roles, students join with School of Music faculty in enhancing the quality of community life, enriching the larger culture and making Baylor a place in which heart, mind and soul coalesce. Baylor’s School of Music is a member of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Texas Association of Music Schools. Degree programs include bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performance, music education and academic majors, as well as doctoral degrees in church music. Degrees leading to the Bachelor of Music Education conform to certification requirements of the Texas Education Agency. Visit the School of Music website to learn more.


The Baylor Libraries lead as an innovative research library that undergirds scholarship, fosters teaching and learning and builds communities. Comprised of Moody and Jones Libraries along with world-renowned special collections that include Armstrong Browning Library and Museum, The Texas Collection and University Archives, The Institute for Oral History, the Keston Center for Religion, Politics and Society and the W. R. Poage Legislative Library, the Libraries drive research at Baylor University and beyond. For more information, visit the Baylor Libraries website.